Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas Published August 2013  by Bloomsbury 420 Pages (Hardcover)
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Published August 2013 by Bloomsbury
420 Pages (Hardcover)

At A Glance

High fantasy fans who haven’t checked this series out yet seriously need to get with it! I liked the first one, but I loved this! The mystery plot line in this was much stronger than the one in Throne of Glass and the romance continues to run much deeper than a standard love triangle. Magic and dark intrigue abound in this even more than its predecessor and the stakes are raised in a big way. 4.5/5 Stars.

Summary (Here begin Throne of Glass Spoilers!)

Celaena has won the competition to become King’s Champion and is now working to eliminate those who pose a threat to the vast empire…or so the king thinks. Really she is leaving the rebels alive and struggling to decide how great of a role she will have in their fight; uncovering the reasons and machinations behind the banishment of magic while balancing her ever changing relationships within the castle.

My Thoughts

I am going to try very hard to talk about things without spoiling the plot, but it’s going to be challenging. Let’s see…

My biggest complaint with Throne of Glass was the predictability of the plot. There was one plot point that became very obvious to me early on (the one revealed explicitly at the very, very end, for those who’ve read it) so much so that it was probably meant to be that way, or at least I hope so. However, other than that, I found this plot to be a lot stronger in terms of surprising events. Celaena is challenged left and right, deciding who she can trust and how much she will give of herself to serve her country. The obstacles thrown in her path as well as her reactions to them are inspired. They hurt, in the best possible sense. Every other major character was challenged as well, by each other and by the trappings of their various positions. Again, as in Throne of Glass, the multiple perspectives serve the narrative extremely well

I continue to enjoy the romance aspect of this series as well. All three characters in the love triangle are fully formed and have pretty well developed relationships on all sides, though Dorian and Chaol didn’t have as much interaction with each other as I would have hoped, friendship-stressing events aside. Even more than the romance in this book, I look forward to seeing what happens in the next as the setting changes and some of the trio is separated from the rest.

My only problems with this book, and they are teeny-tiny problems, are some small confusion over the Wyrd and its role, though admittedly I was still reeling from events when it was explained, so that could be just me. The rebel group was quite mysterious as well. Partly for plot reasons, I’m sure, but I do wish I knew more about their motivations and ambitions. I’m assuming both entities will come into play more in the following book or books in this series, so I’m sure I will learn more in due time.

Wrap-Up

This is a very good fantasy series that I highly recommend. It’s got well-developed characters and a big, complicated world for them to operate in. Definitely check it out if it sounds even remotely interesting to you and enjoy the ride until you have to join the rest of us in waiting for more!

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell Published 2012 328 Pages (Hardcover)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published 2012
328 Pages (Hardcover)

Quick Review

Everyone loves this book. I’m sure it’ll be making favorite book of the year lists all over the place this week, and it’ll probably be on mine too. Whenever I actually come up with it. (Hopefully before February.) It’s a love story that both warms and breaks your heart in equal measure, made timeless by its deliberate dating and enduring theme. The characters shine and each of their simplest gestures of romance take your breath away. Read it, read it, read it. 5/5 Stars

Storytime

I normally don’t do this, but I want to pause the review and tell the story of how my reading this book came about, since it’s just a fun story on its own. Eleanor and Park had been floating around my mental list of things to read for a long while, but it came back to the forefront after I finished Fangirl and then it leaped to the top of the list this past week after it was recommended back to me by a friend.

“Recommended back” is a weird way to put it, but here’s how things went down:

I met up with some friends last Tuesday night to exchange Christmas gifts and have dinner. One of these friends, Savanna, is a big reader as well and we got to talking about books after I gifted The Raven Boys to her. Brittney, who is decidedly not a reader, was also there and she was shocked at how flustered we both got when cryptically (friend #4, Kayla, hasn’t read it it yet) talking about The Fiery Heart. Determined to get her on the crazy reading train with us once and for all, Savanna and I convinced Britt to accompany us to Barnes & Noble to pick something out. After a good half hour of wandering, trying to suss out what she might be interested it, we were vacillating between several YA contemporaries, one or two of which I had read before and liked. She almost bought Thirteen Reasons Why, was definitely interested in borrowing my copy of The Fault in Our Stars, but Savanna thought it would be most fun to have her buy and read something we hadn’t before, thinking it made the most sense to have her get something one of us didn’t already own. So after spotting Fangirl (which I had just finished) on an end-cap, I remembered hearing amazing things about Eleanor & Park and used my expert book-shopping skills to hunt it down (I couldn’t find it, had to ask at customer service, and was directed to a table three feet behind me.) Brittney bought it and we all went home. I thought it would take her at least a week to read it, and I was nervous. I’d heard wonderful things about Eleanor & Park, but I couldn’t know they were true until I read it myself. Still thinking about it on Thursday, I grabbed it at the library, intending to get to it only after I’d finished the other library books due back sooner, because I’m OCD about my library due dates.

Then on Friday morning I wake up to a Facebook message Britt sent just after midnight saying that she “couldn’t put it down” and “I couldn’t believe that it was over,” offering it up to whoever wanted it next while begging me for The Fault in Our Stars. I dropped my phone and grabbed Eleanor and Park off my TBR pile, getting 40 pages in before leaving TFIOS on my front porch for her to pick up that day if she wanted and dashing out the door to work. I thought I was misreading her excitement in assuming she’d want to go out of her way to come to my house and navigate the icy steps up to my door to grab a book out of the storm door that never opens right because Dad thought it would be a good idea to install it himself, but it was gone when I got home that night. Now we’ll see who blushes and gets all excited when we next talk about books.

TL;DR: My friend who “doesn’t read” picked up Eleanor and Park and loved it and I have an over-inflated sense of pride about being the one to hand it to her in the bookstore.

Back to Business

I pretty much liked everything about this book, so this section is superfluous and I’ll try to keep it short.

This is a romance book that I loved, so of course, I loved the romance. It evolves well, from first day hesitance to charged friendship to infatuation over the course of a few months with all the requisite speed bumps along the way. The physical scenes are quiet, but every small gesture is detailed and heavy with emotion, though never in a way that felt overly saccharine or just plain over done.

I enjoyed the characters overall also. They are both just so realistic as teenagers. They are uncertain yet unerringly passionate; striving for independence as they stick close to home. I loved them even as they made mistakes because their mistakes made them all that much more real. Setting this book so firmly in the past was a stroke of genius that made it timeless (and helped the plot near the end there). This is a book that can never feel dated, written as it is almost as a historical fiction (landlines and paper book covers and cassette tapes and handwritten letters)

Wrap-Up

This is sweet and true, idealistic without shying away from imperfection, celebrating both youth and love. I think teenagers can relate, and those of us who aren’t teenagers anymore will find themselves remembering something from that time when every moment felt important. It’s not overstating it to call it a standout in the genre in recent years. If you’ve read all these rave reviews and haven’t checked it out for yourself you should. As soon as you can.

A Blizzard of Mini-Reviews (Doctor Sleep, Fangirl, & Sea of Monsters)

I haven’t posted in well over a week since I’ve been working a lot of hours in the weeks leading up to Christmas and instead of stressing myself out by trying to write a bunch of lengthy reviews, I thought I’d get caught up by just writing some short ones and putting them all in one big post, even if the books are pretty different from each other. There will be a full review of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park up soon as well, and then hopefully I’ll be caught up to my reading pace and can get back to a 2-3 posts per week schedule.

Mini Review #1: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep Cover4/5 Stars

The Shining was my first King novel and I read it just a few months ago, in September. I liked it. I didn’t love it; I thought it was kind of slow and boring at the beginning, though it did really scare me at the end. I went into its sequel, Doctor Sleep thinking it would be similarly quite boring before terrifying the pants off me, worried that it would take me weeks to finish. I was totally wrong. It was less scary than The Shining (to me anyway, I had a friend not finish it because it scared her and she’d read/seen The Shining) either because I knew what to expect or because the scares are different.

What stood out to me in Doctor Sleep was the characterization. Dan Torrance is just as messed up by the events of The Shining as you would expect him to be, and so you see him struggle with alcoholism, hit rock bottom, and claw his way back up until he finds himself in the position of needing to help someone else. His journey was the core of the book and it was interwoven masterfully with the supernatural adventure that accompanied it, though I thought that the plot point about the connection between him and Abra was a little forced and weird. Overall, though, I really loved this a lot more than I thought I  would.

Mini Review #2-Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl Cover4/5 Stars

This one’s pretty popular in the internet world of book reviews, so you’ve probably heard of it before. Cath is a huge Simon Snow (read: Harry Potter) fan who spends her days writing slash fan fic. She starts college all on her own after her twin, Wren, decides its time for them to get some time apart. Socially anxious Cath then must contend with her aloof roommate and her super-cute maybe-boyfriend, a professor who thinks fan fic is plagiarism, and her family’s many problems.

I really enjoyed Fangirl. Cath is likable and relateable without being too flat or cliche. Her romance with Levi is unique in that they have completely opposite personalities. The obvious thing is to pair a nerd with another nerd who will validate her nerdiness, but here Cath is challenged yet supported by a cute, outgoing Ag. major. It was fun, it was cute, and it helped them both jump off the page. The story had more than one layer as well, exploring Cath’s relationships with her father, sister and absent mother. Her relationship with her roommate Reagan was another highlight for me, as it was complicated without devolving into frienemy territory and yet still close and good for both of them.

Mini Review #3-Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson #2) by Rick Riordan

Sea of Monsters Cover4/5 Stars

I liked this one too. My biggest complaint with The Lightning Thief was, surprisingly, too much action, but here each scene flowed a lot more gracefully together and the world building continues to be well-executed. The humor was amazing as well, and the characters are done well also, with shockingly complicated relationships and personalities, given the large cast and short page-count of the series thus far. I continue to be amazed by how much I like this series, given that I am a decade out from its intended audience and it is so highly hyped. It’s fun and funny and a hell of a ride for all ages.

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Published March 2012 404 Pages (Hardcover)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Published March 2012
404 Pages (Hardcover)

A Quick Little Review

I have a strong dislike for this cover, but I did really, really like what was behind it. I spend a lot of time on this blog hating on love triangles, but this one has potential to be really good and interesting, so if you like love triangles, or you’re just tired of giving them hate all the time, you will probably like the romance in here.

There is more than romance. The world is pretty interesting and built large enough for further adventure, though it is a bit uninspired in concept, and the plot is structured well, centering around a strong heroine. Celaena arrives fully formed, with a past mysterious enough to be interesting while still explained enough for clarity. I enjoyed the balance and scope of this novel, as it’s the first in a series, and I look forward to reading the sequel. 4/5 stars.

Summary

Convicted assassin Celaena Sardothien has survived for a year in the salt mines, a place criminals are sent to die, usually within mere months. A chance for freedom comes in the form of Crown Prince Dorian, who has chosen to sponsor her in the contest to become King’s Champion, a shadowy royal assassin. She journeys to the royal palace and trains under the tutelage of Dorian’s friend and guard, Chaol Westfall, before embarking on a months long competition against cruel soldiers, thieves, and assassins to become the Champion.

Shortly after the competition begins, one competitor after another is found brutally murdered and Celaena begins to find evidence of old, outlawed magic everywhere in the castle. When she investigates, she soon discovers that her destiny is tied to hunting the evil that dwells within the castle.

The Pointy Elephant in the Room

I hate the vast majority love triangles. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. They’re lazy; they’re the fastest, most obvious way to drive conflict in a romance-based plot and their outcomes are usually painfully obvious from the get-go. I still think that as a general rule, but this love triangle has some potential. All three characters are complex enough to make things interesting, with weaknesses and conflicting loyalties that can provide some interesting plot points as the series moves forward. This one also features the two men as friends long before the woman enters the picture, which strengthens it as well, adding extra angst to the compulsory jealousy. Each love also has unique internal challenges and is unique overall. How she feels with each man is different, in experience not in strength.

I do feel, however, that there is a predictable outcome to this love triangle. One of the love stories is much more star-crossed than the other, and it did manifest first. Both are good indicators of being the final winner, but I do think that there is potential here to go some other way. I hope it does, and I will reserve final judgement on this love triangle until I’ve finished the series. Point is, I don’t hate it, and I think it will be interesting to see it play out, so good job Ms. Maas.

Let Me Climb Off the Soapbox for a Moment

The plot was not all love triangle, so I should probably talk about it as well. It was pretty standard fantasy fare:  tyrant king at war with the world plus an unlikely hero and a side of court intrigue. We’ve all read some version of it before, but it is well executed here. Each scene comes to life with descriptions that are effective without dragging on and on. Celaena is a believable heroine; she has a long and complicated past that involved years of training in her profession as an assassin. Her strength and experience are truly hard-won, something that I think makes her stand out from other heroes of her genre

The mystery bit of the plot was a bit thin and obvious,  though maybe that’s just me after watching too many crime dramas (Suspect all the wrong people for a long while, turns out to be the guy you thought it was in the first five minutes.) Celaena’s got a lot to learn about observance and logic, I thought. Certain things were just too easy to figure out for me and not for her.

Pretty much everything else was good. The world-building was consistent and coherent, the pacing was fine. This was a series opener that struck a strong balance between explanation and events, creating a good story between its covers, but leaving plenty of loose ends for the series to go on. So many other series have boring first books or uninspired sequels, but I bet that won’t happen to this series. I also really liked the changing perspectives. Using third person can be distancing sometimes, but this was one case where it really frees up the story to be explored from so many different angles, helping, rather than hurting, character empathy.

Wrap-Up

Fans of high fantasy and YA romance will love this, as it fits firmly in both genres. There’s a good deal of mystery within the castle walls too, so if you like medieval court drama style fiction (Philippa Gregory and the like), you also may like this, even if you are not usually much of a fantasy reader.  This is a fantasy-romance-mystery-drama that is strongly constructed and written well with plenty of room for growth in future installments. I look forward to Crown of Midnight and whatever comes after for Celaena and her friends and beaus.

Review: Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini

Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini Published May 2013 by Harper Teen 421 Pages (Hardcover)
Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini
Published May 2013 by Harper Teen
421 Pages (Hardcover)

Quick Review

I really enjoyed the idea behind this series, but, though I did enjoy the first one quite a bit, this installment and its predecessor are just not well executed. The overall story arc should have been wonderful, but the plot gets too tangled up in its tortured romance and too loudly dropped hints. The characters, who should be strong and fascinating, simply are not. I don’t hate it so much as feel really bad for it. There were glimmers of greatness, but they just weren’t enough to save it. 2.5 Stars.

Summary (Spoilers for Starcrossed and Dreamless)

Half-god scions Helen, Lucas, and Orion have united the four Scion houses when they became blood brothers, fulfilling a long-standing prophecy and releasing the Gods from Olympus. Now they must prepare for war and face a slew of betrayals, beginning with determining who among them is the long feared Tyrant.

How Much Did I Not Like It? Let’s Figure It Out.

I talk about the plot in pretty general terms here, so you should be ok to read it if you haven’t yet read Goddess. If you are especially spoiler-sensitive, however, you may not want to read past this point.

I made it sound pretty cool in that summary. Summaries are hard to write, by the way, I see why a lot of bloggers copy over the professional’s from the jacket cover. Anyway, the plot pulls a lot of interesting concepts from Greek myth including what the novel calls “The Great Cycle,” wherein  children are destined to overthrow their parents, and warrior tropes from The Iliad. I’m not very familiar with The Iliad, I read The Odyssey in high school, but my only experience with its prequel is the oft-criticized movie Troy. One interesting thing about that movie (other than how terrible Brad Pitt looked with long hair) is the sameness of the people on both sides of the battle. Hector and Achilles fight to the death, but in some other world, they could be the best of friends. The same strange sense of sadness over this type of battle comes into play in Goddess, and it was a highlight of the story, though this story was noticeably less populated with death than its inspiration, which was, I think, a weakness. Sometimes it’s good for characters to die.

A couple of pretty major characters did die, though. I felt that his/her deaths weren’t adequately felt by the rest of the characters in the story. No one was highly affected by their losses, at least that we could see on-page. Few deaths could be just as poignant as many, but nobody took/had the time to mourn, even after the action was finished. They were too wrapped up in other things.

Which brings me to the main focus of the book. Goddess is a romance novel and every character has someone to love at some point in the book. There was one instance in particular that was very strange, (though I enjoyed that one in spite of myself) and previously unattached characters fell hopelessly in love instantaneously, seemingly so that their romance could be included on the same playing field as the others. All of the romances were a bit overwrought, with each lover completely focused only on his or her partner, ignoring the other familial and friendly relationships in their lives. Helen and Claire, friends since birth,spectacularly lose sight of each other. I hate it when a romance book puts romantic love on a pedestal above all of other types. It’s especially ridiculous in this story; all of the couples have known each other only for a few months at most.

A problem for me all the way back in Starcrossed was Lucas and Helen’s romance, which really doesn’t make sense. Neither has any personality beyond being whiny and angst-ridden and, other than fate, they have zero reason to be in love at all. And they, like everyone else, focus on each other to the detriment of their friends and family, which fits with The Iliad, but here it is seen as a romantic manifestation of fated true love rather than the utmost in selfishness.

Wrap-Up

I could probably go on, but then this review would be spoiler-central and I think you get the idea anyway. The plot had potential. It had moments where it was great and overall, with a few noticeable and irritating exceptions, I was kept guessing enough to want to finish the book. However, the romances were flat and not unique and other than its interesting concept, the book didn’t have a whole lot going for it. It is better than some of the other paranormal romances I’ve read this year (Hush, Hush and Tiger’s Curse come to mindGod, did I ever hate Tiger’s Curse.) but other than hardcore fans of the genre looking for something new, this is a series that can be skipped.

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Published by Little, Brown in September 2013
419 pages (Hardcover)

Quick Review

In the acknowledgements, Holly Black calls this her love letter to vampire books, and I certainly got that feeling. This is a vampire book first and a romance second or third. It’s loaded with dark and gory scenes and preoccupied with death. Tana’s a strong and believable protagonist, the world is well-designed and the plot is nicely executed, though I did read this pretty slowly. Part was the busyness of my own life, though part probably was due to the slightly slow pacing in the middle third. Overall though, it’s a great, dark, modern fantasy that any quote-unquote real vampire fan will enjoy. 4/5 stars.

What’s It About?

After a massive outbreak of previously self-contained vampirism, Coldtowns spring up all over the country. In these quarantine areas, vampires live with humans in a strange predator-prey dynamic. Humans obsessed with the dark creatures and the immortality they offer flock to Coldtowns, hoping they too, will be turned. But once a person enters Coldtown, there is no returning to their old life.

Out in the land of the living, Tana wakes up the morning after a party only to find the entire house drenched in the blood of her friends. She and her ex Aidan are the only survivors and Aidan has “gone Cold,” or has been bitten by a vampire, and is doomed to become one of the undead creatures of the night unless he resists the irresistable urge to consume human blood. Chained near him is a vampire named Gavriel, of uncertain sanity and trustworthiness, but in clear need of rescuing. With more bloodthirsty vampires at her back, Tana must decide what to do in an insane, un-winnable situation.

My Rambling Thoughts

I just gave a lot of it away, but the beginning of this book was so great. It’s dark and gory right off the bat, and we get to know Tana and her past quickly and naturally. The opening scenes made me fall in love with the story right away, and even after setting the bar high, it continued to live up to its own expectations, carrying the tense and dark atmosphere throughout the book.

The world was very interesting. It made sense in that it was our world shaken up and turned around, and it provided the opportunity to explore contrasting characteristics in both vampires and humans. The vampire outbreak the society experiences was caused by an act of misplaced mercy, a distinctly human trait in the undead. Then the vampires explode onto the scene and a great number of people become inordinately obsessed with blood and death. The vampires in this world are scary, but they and the humans have more in common then they may realize, at least initially. In short, the story covers everything interesting about vampires and the way they interact with their human prey that other teen vampire books (at least the one’s I’ve been reading lately) do not.

I really enjoyed Tana as a character. I read Holly Black’s Modern Faerie series and I find Tana to be quite similar to Kaye, if that’s a reference that helps you, dear reader, at all. She’s smart, tough, and selfless, but she’s not a perfect angel. Tana starts the book hungover in a bathtub and she’s not incredibly ambitious, but she risks herself for friends and sacrifices her life (as she knows it) to protect her family. I also enjoyed her relationship with Gavriel, it was probably the strongest in the book.

Tana’s other relationships throughout the story weren’t as well built, though. I didn’t feel much for Valentina or Pauline, especially. Perspective jumped to Tana’s sister Pearl occasionally, but I didn’t feel the love there either. It was clear Tana did or was meant to care for these more minor characters, but I felt I was never shown why.

I also felt a little confused/bored in the middle of the book. There’s a bit of traveling around in there and the timing of events wasn’t always clear. The pacing slowed down just slightly here as well, but only in comparison to the rest. I wasn’t hooked, basically, until the final third.

Wrap-Up

I really enjoyed this novel, and I”m glad I picked it up in spite of being relatively unimpressed with some of Holly Black’s previous stuff. The world is well-constructed and the major characters are well-developed and the vampires make huge messes and burn spectacularly in the sun. It’s dark and interesting and full of feeling. I definitely recommend it, if you think you can handle a a vampire adventure with some teeth*.
*Badum chhhhh

Like Whom Do You Write?

I was getting on here to start a new review, but then I saw this post from 101 Books. The website analyzes a few paragraphs of your writing and tells you which famous author your style matches most. I put in about half a chapter from my NaNoWriMo novel and it told me I write like Douglas Adams. I’m taking that as a compliment, though I’ve never actually read Douglas Adams. I have really wanted to read Hitchhiker’s Guide for a long time. I guess I have to now, since Mr. Adams and I are style buddies. 

Find out who you write like here. I’m off to write that review now…

 

Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
First Published June 2005
Paperback (375 pages)-April 2006 by Disney Hyperion

If You’ve Only Got A Minute:

Pretty sure everyone and their grandmother has read this already, but I’ll go ahead and add my two cents. This was good and fun and I really enjoyed it. Percy is everyone’s favorite hero: loyal and loving with enough insecurity to make him relateable and enough snark to give him some personality. The Greek Gods concept is executed admirably and the plot is action packed. I recommend it, I think most fantasy and Harry Potter fans will find something to enjoy here, the younger among them especially so. 4/5 stars.

Summary

Percy Jackson can’t seem to stay in school. He’s dyslexic and a talk-backer to boot and he rarely makes it a year per boarding school. But right after summer vacation starts, disaster strikes and he finds himself at Camp Half-Blood, where the children of the gods, yes, the Greek gods of mythology, reside. Percy discovers his true parentage and is soon granted a quest: find Zeus’s master lightning bot before war breaks out on Olympus, with disastrous consequences for all of mankind.

My Thoughts

It’s a well built, world-within our own fantasy world. The kids at Camp Half-Blood are drawn together by their supernatural parentage, but their aptitudes and personalities vary based on who that parent is, giving the series a lot of opportunity for developing some interesting characters and conflicts. I liked the characters that were presented in this book. Annabeth is tough and determined, struggling to learn how to open herself back up to her distant father. Percy, as I said, is a strong, relateable hero. The gods are the gods of myth, really. Distant and supernatural but insanely human in their jealousy.

The plot was fast and full of action. Once the quest starts, in particular. It was almost too action packed. It wasn’t even a surprise anymore when they were attacked because I knew they would be attacked by something in every. single. scene. But the monsters were good and some of the stuff was really creative, like the hotel in Vegas. I just feel that if fewer of those crazy things could have happened and it would have made the book even more exciting, if that makes any sense. Overall I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t drawn in to the point of staying up all night or anything. It actually took a few days, which is weird for me.

Wrap-Up

That was a short one, but I don’t have a lot of really bad or really good things to say about it. I liked it a lot, especially after hearing a lot of hype about the series before I started it. I’ve got Sea of Monsters on my TBR list and I’m looking forward to it and the rest of this lengthy series. It’s fun fantasy that is appropriate for young readers, but still entertaining for those of us a decade older than Percy or more. It has a lot of noticeable parallels to Harry Potter, which makes it obvious why it has found a large audience of fans. There’s action, adventure, friendship, magic school, mythical beings and creatures galore, and strong characters, both male and female.

November Wrap-Up and December TBR

As I said in this post last month, I really like watching wrap-up videos by “Booktubers” on YouTube, but I usually review everything I read either here or on my Goodreads page, so in my wrap up posts, I let you know what I read and what, out of those books, I liked best. Last month I had three winners, so it’s not like it’s a cutthroat competition here, but it is kind of fun. Click the book titles for Goodreads links, so you can read what they’re about if you’re interested. I’ll also link my reviews to the books in parentheses, indicating if the review was here on The Starlight Shelves, or if it’s a little less formal, on my Goodreads page.

Books I Read in November:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (SS Review)

Bloodlines (SS Review), The Golden Lily (GR Review), The Indigo Spell (GR Review), The Fiery Heart (SS Review) by Richelle Mead

Dreamless (GR Review) by Josephine Angelini

What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) (The Bane Chronicles) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan (I wrote a GR Review, but all I said was “Awww. So sweet.”)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (SS Review)

My favorite is definitely the Bloodlines series! I’m obsessed. I read so many fewer books this month in part because I did NaNoWriMo, but also because I was constantly just rereading all my favorite parts of those books. It was a pretty great month overall though: The Lightning Thief and The Darkest Minds are recommended reads as well.

My December TBR

2013-12-01 08.08.41Woo, that’s a big pile. I just went to the library and went a little nuts, plus I have left overs from last month.

The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman are on there from last month. I’m still planning on re-reading them, but I have to get through these library finds first.

The Book Thief is on there next, another old favorite I’ve been meaning to re-read, especially since the movie just came out. I’ve heard mixed things about the movie, but I still hope to see it soon. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought!

Last month I bought Foretold, a collection of short stories about foretellings, fate and destiny, edited by Carrie Ryan. I bought it only so I could read the story Homecoming by Richelle Mead, which takes place after the events of the Vampire Academy series and tells of Dimitri’s reunion with his family and another small adventure. I read it already and it was great, but I really should check out some of the other stories in there, since it’s got some really wonderful contributing authors.

Next is The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis. This is a supplement to The Mortal Instruments series, it’s meant to be the actual text of the Codex the characters reference and this one is printed like you’re reading Clary’s copy, complete with notes by her and Jace with interjections by Simon. It’s also full of art, from doodles and sketches meant to be Clary’s to the art of the Codex itself. I actually finished it this morning (so one down you towering pile of books!) and I should be posting a review sometime early this week.

The penultimate Bane Chronicle by Cassandra Clare is out this month as well. Last month’s was wonderful and I am looking forward to reading The Last Stand of the New York Institute so much, even if it’s not as Malec-packed as November’s installment (Because Alec, if he’s present at all, is like barely two years old in this one.)

I’ve heard good things about Holly Black’s latest: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which I’ve heard is a cool take on vampires, so I’m in. Looking forward to reading it.

Next is another leftover from November. Goddess, the final book in the Starcrossed series. I plan on reading it soon, but I’m not that excited about it after being kind of disappointed by Dreamless this month.

I had Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas on hold at the library for a long time and I finally got it. I don’t recall what prompted me to try to get it, but it looks to be YA high fantasy, something I haven’t really read much of in the past month or two, not since I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy back in September.

I also managed to snag Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters, book two in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series from the local library. The Lightning Thief didn’t disappoint, even after a lot of hype, and I am excited to continue the series. Hopefully I can get my hands on The Titan’s Curse this month too, but we shall see.

I changed things up a bit on my last library adventure and spent some time browsing around the non-fiction section. First, I picked up Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I’ve read three other books by him (Into the Wild and Into Thin Air for classes in high school, and Where Men Win Glory on my own in college) and I was intrigued by this one.

On the bottom of the stack, purely for the humor, is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I was on my way out when I spotted this lying neglected on the shelf and I had to take it home with me, especially since I remember loving  Outliers.

I also expect that my long wait on the library hold list for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep will end very soon, (I’m first on the list now and there’s a copy due back today!) so that monster will be added to the already precarious pile. This just got really intimidating….Check back in next month to see if I read all twelve! I’ve done it before, but it’s going to be a tall order for sure.